Paul McClean, 25, a journalist with the #Financial Times, died on Thursday while vacationing with a group of friends in #Sri Lanka. He is believed to have been washing his hands in the lagoon when the #Crocodile struck, dragging him into the nearby river. McClean was taking surfing lessons at the beach at the time of the incident.

McClean, who hails from Thames Ditton in Surrey, was said to have left his friends to search for a toilet and was then washing his hands as it happened. The last that was seen of him was his hands, waving in the air, shortly before he was dragged under the water near Arugam Bay.

Lagoon near popular surf spot known for many crocodiles

The lagoon is well known for its many crocodiles and is located adjacent to Elephant Rock, a popular surf area near Arugam Bay.

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According to locals, he had been staying at East Beach Surf Resort, minutes away from the spot where he was attacked.

The BBC quotes Safa Surf School owner, Fawas Lafeer, as saying a local fisherman spotted a man being dragged by a crocodile into the river, which is set back from the beach. He said the fisherman was a little downstream from where it happened, on the other side of the river.

Lafeer did say this was the first known crocodile attack in the area and that the secluded Elephant Rock beach is very safe and used by both visiting and local surfers. He added that crocodiles only live in the fresh waters in the jungle and it is virtually unknown for them to head to the beach as salt water can turn the animals blind. Two fishermen had reportedly tried to save McClean, but by the time they arrived at the location, the crocodile [VIDEO] had already pulled him under the water.

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Journalist’s body found by Sri Lankan navy

According to Lafeer, a body had been retrieved from the river by the Sri Lankan navy at around 20:45 local time at the village of Panama. As reported by the Guardian, a police spokesman said the reporter had suffered six or seven wounds to his right leg and his body had become stuck in the mud. An autopsy is to be held Friday to officially establish the cause of death.

McClean had started work with the Financial Times after graduating from Oxford in 2015 and had worked there for two years, recently covering the Brexit issue. While he had been working in Brussels for some months, he had recently returned to London.

A colleague at the Financial Times told the Guardian that they are all “totally stunned,” adding that McClean was a “great kid” and “super bright.” A British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said they are liaising with, and assisting, McClean’s family after the tragedy.